the leaves have all turned
and most have fallen
black branches emerge
like pitch forks with bent prongs
snow fences are stretched like tourniquets
tightening upon the swelling cornfield
to prevent the amber essence
from bleeding out onto the highway
The Cumberland River Ferry
the water strider,
unaware of the liquid force beneath him,
resists the current when he wishes to remain
when he wants to go.
Observations From A Dark Window
Lee is raking leaves below the window.
If he looked up he would see black glass.
He doesn’t know anyone is watching.
Every now and then he finds a piece of useful trash
discarded from above like the leaves,
and carrying it over to the step,
he brushes it off carefully,
scrapes away tiny chunks of encrusted dirt with his thumbnail,
wipes it off on his shirt tail,
then sets it in a pile on top of his coat.
He just found a white plastic cylinder.
It obviously does not belong in a pile of leaves.
His face says he does not know what it could be used for.
There is probably a small drawer in his basement
overflowing with items like these.
Candy’s Giant Potato
Candy bought a giant potato
No doubt she discovered it
at the supermarket
from within the cellophane bag.
She brought it home
and put it on her shelf
between the teabags
and the milkbones.
Then she invited me to dinner.
Candy cooked the giant potato
and served it to me on a plate
with rare roast beef cold cuts,
bite sized carrots,
and strawberries dowsed in whipped cream.
There were chunks of cold yellow butter
on the potato.
Candy brought salt and pepper.
I think she was excited
that she had found such a giant potato.
I think she was proud.
We ate our dinner.
The potato was delicious.
Candy was pleased.
she plays piano
her back is firm
there is a rip in her jeans
right down the back
a patch of red panties with white dots
shows through the tear
she is embarrassed when the old woman
sees her carrying the laundry downstairs
in her torn pants.
she is playing a slow song
it rambles and falls
it is as if she were combing her hair
it starts out rough
the comb tugs
her hands jerk
but she plays and plays
and the snarls come out
the sound becomes smooth and refined
and so does she
Refrigerator Vision 3:00 AM
Wonders Of Modern Science: Part I (delirium)
My refrigerator has a tiny thermostatic mind of its own
implanted surgically on some assembly line in Minneapolis
by a Maytag man in a khaki uniform.
Yesterday I set the coolness control to number six.
This means that whenever the temperature varies
even half a degree
a tiny Sears transistor has to wake up,
defrost its code number,
jump over to the motor switch,
click it on,
and return to its sealed circuit
while some neon green ammonia solution
flows tirelessly through a thousand invisible tubes
grabbing up little particles of flagrant heat
and spewing them carelessly on my carpet.
And after five minutes or so
when the temperature returns to normal
the whole process has to repeat itself in reverse.
The poor transistor never rests
and the motor makes a noise
like a broken dental drill.
when I dream
my cavities rebel by escaping through my parted lips
at the peak of a snore
to short circuit the refrigerator plug
with smuggled saliva.
All this for an open pack of Green Giant Frozen Giblet Corn,
two leaky polyethylene icetrays,
and a moldy grapefruit.
After you leave
I have to pull all your long gold strands
of knarled hair
from my brush, one by one.
This reminds me of the time
you left three copper pennies
stuck to bubble gum
in my ashtray.
Do you leave this much gold everywhere you go ?
When you left
I walked into my bathroom
picked up my hair brush of black polyethylene
It’s nice of you to leave such delicate parts of your body
above my sink.
I know you won’t be angry
if I throw them into my garbage
with the peach pits
and banana peels.
Before you arrive
I will retrieve seven long gold strands of your hair.
I will tie one around my injured finger like a ring
so it will heal quicker,
then I will take the remaining six
and string them patiently on my broken guitar
and sing you this poem.
when you stooped at the edge of my bed
with the clicking toenail clippers
and you shot them off in all directions
like ricocheting moon-shaped missles.
Three days after you left
I watched a gigantic ant
cart away the tiny sliver from your little toe.
It was a burden for him
pulling it through the crack in the baseboards.
I watched him like a missionary
hovering in a self-righteous helicopter
over a tribe of restless African natives
I’m sure the ant
laid his offering before his queen
like a huge ivory elephant tusk
or an aborigine boomerang
or a sword blade of white steel.
of how much
you have to give.
I scraped the traces of lipstick
that you left on my coffee cup
and the fleshy filters of thirty five menthol cigarette butts
that lay like innocent cadavers in various ashtray coffins
and waste basket mausoleums
and using a few strands of hair
that you left in my comb
I made a tiny paint brush
and painted your face in red lipstick pigment
on my left thumbnail.
As I buried the image under a thick coat of fingernail polish
that you left behind
I titled it: “Lipstick Insomnia (part one)”
and woke up.
Letter To A Friend Potentially Lost
You, my friend, jealous martyred moping lover . . .
I wish I could at least help you to uncover
the onioned layers of this unsubtle childish reality
that you have managed, in your blind hypocrisy,
to hide; and your motivations with this girl
seem like an oyster, a piece of sand, and a pearl.
Enclosed, spat out, abandoned, and reclaimed . . .
as if desires and weaknesses could all be renamed.
It is selfish and cruel “to call an ax, a spade”
when all you want is to have your body laid
between two white sheets - playing hide and seek,
then immediately you fall asleep.
Sullen and slick like some bird of prey
you spit your cherry seeds away.
Turn to me and tell me you enjoy this taste,
that all your empty spaces have been replaced,
and I will tell you that I love her too . . .
unselfishly, in spite of you.
And if this poem would mark the end of that love
I would not remove my memories like a glove.
I will save my thoughts like precious shriveled seeds
and plant them as the satisfaction of my needs
as if to nourish and observe, to prune and care
for the fragrant remnants of this affair.
I suppose, I will look you directly in the eyes.
Your avoidance will betray any personal lies,
and perhaps in a year these scars will heal
as you dive into some new ordeal.
Until then let this stand as my message from within:
to incorporate, change, and grow from what you have been,
that this irrationality and lack of reason might end
leaving you with what you had at first:
. . . . . a friend.
The Paradox Of Need
The more you need
the less you get.
The syndrome isn’t over yet.
The less you get
the more you feed
on filling superficial need.
South Vietnamese Baby Lift Tragedy
passing her silently in the hallway
her neckline dove down and crashed
like a mid-air jet collision
into an uncharted valley
of sweat beads and melting snowdrifts
the co-pilots were fortunate
bailing out in silken parachutes
side by side
down into a pool
where lost in the distraction of my eyes
When I woke up this morning
I lit a cigarette immediately.
This is my guilty conscience showing through
telling me to punish my body
for the crimes my dreams committed.
A strange dream
can be like a huge piece of glass.
Today I woke up startled
searching for the broken slivers on the rug.
outside the air is so frozen
that the trees creek
like a thousand old oak doors on rusted iron hinges
the wind seems
to lift the latch.
Observations From The Window Of Flight #128
San Francisco To Chicago
(Flying The Turbulent Skies Of United)
From the heavens, it’s obvious
that erosive patterns have formed.
Water runs from the slopes.
The rivers resemble veins of a leaf.
or arterial pathways.
Mountains with snow and buried pine trees
reflect like wrinkled aluminum foil.
Clouds are stuffed into valleys
like ointment in open wounds.
Flying from west to east
nature is defied
by the acceleration of time.
Departing in the darkness
of early morning,
the sunrise chases us
from the rear horizon.
Black, yellow, orange,
light blue, deep blue...
ahead we chase the day toward dusk,
deep blue to hazy gray,
then black again.
The sky is confused and so am I.
Sonnet For Emily and Grace
Before your birth my life was self-immersed
with wood and words and ink, my art would flow.
These empty tasks were carelessly dispersed
to feed the need for self worth and ego.
Your toddler clothes were gradually outgrown –
two girls transformed to women gracefully.
The fruits of all the savored seeds we'd sewn
had blossomed to become our family.
One day I might seem gone, but I’m not through.
Remember how we laughed and don’t be sad.
Our dreams will merge – my calling out for you
to carry on and relish what we’ve had.
To share a portion of your lives for me
has sealed my soul to yours eternally.